Posts with the category ‘Europe’


Exhausted in a Gladiola Field, I Find Dutch Samaritans on a Bicycle Built For Two

September 12, 2019

  Intending no disrespect Google Maps, but could you please stop predicting how long it will take me to pedal 30 miles in Holland? I’m biking because I want to linger: see the sites, smell the roses, dig my toes into the sand on Holland’s expansive beaches all of which I CANNOT DO if I am racing across the landscape at 15 miles per hour. That said, when an expected two-and-a-half-hour ride from Rotterdam to Zeeland turned into something much longer, my energy level was so depleted that I started to worry I would not/could not make it to my hotel for the night.  Then… Read More…


The Many Reasons To Rise With the Sun in Cadiz

August 12, 2019

  Nestled low among mid-rise, colonial-era buildings in the heart of the old city of Cadiz, my rental apartment had just one problem; the rising sun did not enter my bedroom window until well past 8:00. As I’d chosen to stay in Southern Spain in February to escape the New England winter I did not want to lose a moment of daylight just because my sun-sensitive body clock was tricked into thinking it was still too early to get up. A month later, (having surrendered to an alarm clock) I was doubly convinced. There is too much to enjoy in this historic city by the… Read More…


Painter of Storks Delivers Message of Migration

February 16, 2019

To the delight of many, the White Storks have returned to Puerto de la Santa Maria and few are happier about it than Francisco Prainz. I saw the birds and met the man who is documenting their annual fair weather residence here while riding my bike on a sunny afternoon. A dozen of the storks were clucking loudly and stomping around their enormous nests atop the city’s 15th Century Priory Church and I joined several others who were gawking at them. White Storks, I have learned, have quite a big fan base according to the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. “In Europe it brings newborns, in Mesopotamia it… Read More…


Around the World, the Holiday Season Transforms With Sugar, Lights and Love

December 12, 2017

The great thing about holidays is the transformation of the ordinary.  Christmas pageants transform ordinary folks into Bethlehem villagers. Lights transform homes into dazzling displays. Butter, flour and powdered sugar are transformed into something delectable (and even thematic). It is a time of transformation after all, especially for Christians who celebrate the incarnation of God through the birth of Jesus. Over the years, I’ve collected photos of the various ways people around the world decorate and celebrate from Ethiopia to England.   So I was especially pleased to see in my inbox today, these holiday-themed photos from hotels in the U.S.A. who are turning the… Read More…


Iceland Bared, Three Ways to See What It’s Made Of

October 22, 2016

“If you get lost in the forest in Iceland, just stand up,” or so the joke goes. Iceland has many natural wonders, but forests are not among them. You are much more likely to get lost among the volcanic rocks which pile atop each other over vast distances. Covered by snow in winter, lichen in fall and awash in purple Lupina in the summer, the bones of the face of Iceland have a seasonal sameness. I’ve visited Iceland five times in as many years, including a visit in July for this story for The New York Times. But after a conference here this week, I took two days and… Read More…


Prostitute and Papacy Entwined in Lake Constance History

July 6, 2016

She is thirty feet high and weighs 36 thousand pounds and every inch of her voluptuous and barely-concealed anatomy is alluring – except perhaps for the two naked and wizened old men who sit in the palms of each of her upraised hands, one a pope the other an emperor. The statute of the courtesan Imperia by German artist Peter Lenk is not just the most “photographed attraction” in the lakeside resort town of Constance (Konstanz in German) in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, it is the only public sculpture to so conspicuously memorialize a prostitute. Revolving at a rate of once every three minutes to display… Read More…


The Magical Effect of Music and Mozart in Salzburg

July 1, 2016

Tom Hook, the New Orleans jazz pianist, sitting next to me at the Mozart dinner concert my last night in Salzburg, Austria, explained his presence at the event with a smile and probably some understatement, “I am familiar with Mozart’s music.” Sure, there’s a gulf as wide as the Atlantic Ocean between American jazz and the music for which the 18th century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is so famous, still, I have little doubt my dinner companion knew far more than I about Mozart when he arrived in Austria. In a room illuminated by candlelight, two singers, garbed in the costumes of the day sang pieces… Read More…


Outta My Comfort Zone and Into the Ice in Finland

January 21, 2016

In Miami, where I grew up, swimming in the ocean was akin to stepping into the tub; no discernable difference in temperature between the water and the air and that’s just how I like it. So no one was more surprised then I to be bounding across the snow in Helsinki wearing nothing more than a swimsuit and a towel and headed to a hole in the ice on the Gulf of Finland. And yes, I was planning to swim. To understand what lunacy prompted me do do such a thing, I need to wind back the story a few hours. The plan was to take a hike, what tour… Read More…


Rolling Down the River; World’s Best Waterfront Bike Rides

December 24, 2015

Somewhere between the too-slow pace of walking and the everything-passes-by-in-a-blur of driving, I think riding a bike is just right. Some places are more conducive to bicycles than others, Beijing and Hanoi are for the suicidal pedaler, too much traffic, not enough respect for the two-wheeler. Seoul and Santa Monica, on the other hand are two of many cities where in a manageable distance one can go from city center to scenic waterside trail.  An additional plus in Seoul is free daily bike rentals for visitors.  That’s right, I don’t know how long it will last but the rental is absolutely free with helmets and locks included. How hospitable… Read More…


Alabama Shore Shows Diversity of U.S. Culture

November 13, 2015

On a recent trip to France, I had breakfast with Sofia Vandaele, General Manager of the newly remodeled and absolutely gorgeous Hilton Paris Opera. Sofia is Belgian and fluent in seven languages. It never ceases to amaze Americans – many of whom know only English – just how many different tongues the people in other countries speak. Sofia is very smart, not to mention charming which explains why she is one of the world’s youngest hotel managers. Big hat tip to a woman like that and who can also carry on a conversation in seven languages. Still, anyone who has visited Europe knows many countries are… Read More…


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